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Kettlebell Snatch

It is well known that kettle bell snatch is the most challenging lifts among all the kettle bell lifts. I hereby present an article written by Arnav Sarkar on this important lift. You can also see that Arnav has intelligibly explained about the snatch and how the kettle bell swing acts as an important basic lift.

Oh! By the way, don’t forget to watch his video on the snatch with 24 kilogram kettle bell for 5 minutes—106 reps.

Challenge your conditioning with the 5 minutes kettlebell snatch

The kettlebell snatch is probably the most popular kettlebell exercise out there, and often people will compare their kettlebell skills by seeing who can snatch more! And why not, after all it is a great exercise that has often humbled the very fit and the very strong among us. However, it also happens to be a very highly rewarding exercise. With regular practice you can expect to develop a firm grip, powerful hamstring, and great lower back strength and endurance, besides burning a ton of calories in the process. And yes, your conditioning and cardio will reach a totally different level altogether.

The basic movement of the kb snatch involves first swinging a kettlebell between the feet and then lifting it to lockout position overhead, in one single motion. There should be no form of pressing involved in the rep and the rep should be smooth and crisp. Unlike a dumbbell or barbell snatch, the kettlebell snatch is done for higher reps as one gets to use momentum that is created by swinging the bell between the feet, and also because one can relax the grip at the top, which allows the muscles to recover between reps and keep working for longer. It is however important that one learns the technique first before they attempt high reps, for both safety and for performance. The snatch is a relatively technical move, so do not rush it and expect to hit high numbers soon.
For beginners it is important to spend enough time learning the one arm swing first, since the swing happens to be the gateway to the snatch. Once you can swing the bell comfortably, it is time to begin snatching. After you have learnt the basic technique, it is now time to challenge yourself. In professional kettlebell competitions, lifters compete by snatching a kb for 10 minutes before putting the bell down, and that too with just one hand change. However, that requires years of hard training, and takes a lot of dedication.

For the general fitness enthusiast, or for someone who is using kettlebells as a tool to improve GPP or performance for another sport, snatching for 5 minutes is good enough. And if you can do 100 reps or more in 5 minutes with a decent size bell with just one hand change, then you deserve a big pat on the back. What is a decent size bell? Well, I would say 24 kgs for men and 12 or 16 kgs for women is a decent number. That being said you will probably need to start with a lighter bell before you move to the heavier ones.

To achieve the 100 rep goal with one hand change, you will need to build upto it gradually. My suggestion would be to take the following 3 phase approach:
Phase 1- this is the starting phase, so take it easy. In this phase you can change hands multiple times and also keep the bell down on the ground to rest. At first you might get only about 50 reps or so in 5 minutes, but with time take less rest and keep the bell down less often so that you can get more reps, and do this till you reach 100 reps in 5 minutes or less.

Phase 2- now that you have done 100 reps in 5 minutes with multiple hand changes and keeping the bell down multiple times, you will now try to get 100 reps in 5 minutes, without keeping the bell down. You are still allowed to change hands as many times as possible. You will now also need to start pacing yourself, and maintain a certain reps per minute (RPM) pace. So if you did 100 reps by keeping the bell down multiple times in 5 minutes, which is 20 RPM, you might now need to drop down to about 14-15 RPM without keeping the bell down and changing hands multiple times. Gradually increase the RPM as you get comfortable till you can do 20 RPM for 5 minutes without keeping the bell down.

Phase 3- in phase 3 the challenge is to work to the point where you can do 100 reps or more in 5 minutes with just one hand change! So if you did 100 reps in phase 2 by changing hands every 30 seconds, it is now time to start changing hands less frequently and do more reps each hand before the change. Build it up slowly. For eg. Change hands every 45 seconds, then every minute, then every 90 seconds and so on till you can do with just one hand change. Initially you may again need to cut down on the RPM to last the 5 minutes, but eventually you will be able to work upto the 20 RPM mark as you get fitter.

To get an idea of phase 3, see the video below of me doing a 5 minute set with the 24 kgs, where I managed to do about a total to 106 reps with just the one hand change. Give the 5 minutes kettlebell snatching a try, and I am sure that you will love the challenge and the rewards that follow!

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